This week, I heard that a friend and very devoted Golden mom got some really crummy news about the love of her life. I thought I had it bad- I was pretty mad at the universe that Emmett got lymphoma when he was only 7. Teva is only FOUR. Ugh.
That is the roll of the die we take when we invite a pet into our lives, especially one like a Golden who is unfortunately genetically more susceptible to certain cancers. That doesn’t make it suck any less.
I spent a lot of time dissecting my feelings on the topic, whether I wish I had known sooner, or later, or how else I could have approached the situation. I mean, what do you do when you join the Club of Unwelcome Crappy News, watching someone you love jump along blissfully unaware of the clock you now see ticking over their head? A clock that despite how you try, you can’t stop seeing, unable to block out the tickticktick of the hands ticking down?
What do you do? Well, I say you give your dog a donut.
Here’s the thing: you fight, because you must. Your pet will go along with it, because they trust you. They are not motivated by an intrinsic desire to soldier through a treatment regimen because they have no clue there’s something wrong.
You have to bear the weight of this knowledge by yourself, and that is really hard. And for every moment you despair, promise yourself to create a moment of joy as well, because some day down the road, that is what you are going to remember. Don’t let yourself get so paralyzed by sadness that you lose sight of the fact that your dog is still up for a trip to the park and is not particularly sad at all.
Part of me thinks it would be so much easier if our pets just kind of dropped off in their sleep without warning, so we wouldn’t have to fight with treatments and choices and all that painful stuff. But medicine has advanced too far. We know things really far ahead of time, these days.
But the other part of me realizes that I packed more into our last three months together than I did in the prior three years. I let life and kids come to the forefront of my life, and I took my dogs for granted. They didn’t complain. They never do. But the diagnosis was strangely a blessing, because it was a thunk over the head to get off my butt and drink life in, in the moments I had left to use them.
So, to review: what do you do when you get forced into the involuntary luge that is a cancer diagnosis in a dog?
3. Joyride. If your neighbor has a Porsche, borrow it.
Even in sickness, our pets teach us how to live.
To Teva and Heather and everyone else in the middle of the fight, may you have many years of donuts, parks, and shenanigans stretching ahead of you.